With every project there are many aspects which come together to provide the overall result, but all of these elements take careful planning and consideration. In the first of our regular ‘Planning Your Project Series’ we examine how you can improve your project by setting, what I like to call, emotional goals.
Setting emotional goals refers to defining a direction or path for which you would like to take your audience. You need to take your viewers on a journey which not only tells your story effectively but delivers them to a point where they are willing to tell others about your project. Having an emotional goal will also help you clearly outline a plan for your entire project based on how you want your audience to feel at certain points in time.
Why Do I Need To Set Emotional Goals?
Deciding what you want to achieve emotionally from your project is important to making it successful. How the audience interacts and connects on a personal level will make a difference to whether people watch your project right through and especially whether they will share it with friends.
Think through all the projects, websites, films, which you have seen that you would never want to tell people about. What was wrong with them? Short of choosing a bad story, most people might answer one of the usual cliches such as ‘Oh it was boring’… or ‘it was a bad film’ – responses which indicate that you were emotionally unsatisfied. It is these responses which you want to avoid.
There are also many aspects of your project which will be decided on the goals you set for your audience, so it is important that you have an emotional goal in mind so you can connect different parts of your story with your audience.
Here is a short list of things, which may be affected by your choice of goal:
- What reaction you want people to have
- What equipment you decide to use
- What locations you decide to shoot in and how they are shot
- What questions you ask people
- What stories you include
- What music you choose
- Who you get to edit your project and how they edit it
- Whether you have a website and how it is designed
While it is clearly not an exhastive list, you probably get the picture – all of these things clearly rely on some kind of emotional direction. Being able to connect with your audience is key, and knowing where you want to take them is what makes your projects come to life.
How To Define Emotional Goals
Once you have decided to come up with an emotional goal for your audience, it’s important to think about what you want your audience to feel. There is going to be some very important questions which you need to ask yourself:
- Do you want them to be happy, or sad?
- Do you want them to feel empathetic, or apathetic?
- Do you want to really tug on their heartstrings or do you just want them to connect on superficial level?
- How do you want them to feel during your project?
- How do you want them to feel after they have seen your project?
- How do you want your project to be described to others?
There is no set key to defining the emotional goals which will work best for your project but all of the above questions will help you come up with goals that suit what you want to achieve.
One way to look at is by drawing out a small timeline of how you want your project to pan out. This timeline can be something you work on and revise throughout your project, but it represents the emotional journey you want people to take. Above the timeline might be happy points and below might be sad. You can gradually flesh this out as you get an idea of what your story might look like.
Your emotional goal will vary depending on each of your stories. If someone has had shocking events happen to them, and that is the focus of your story, you need to take that into consideration when thinking of your goal.
Inevitably your goals will change throughout the production of your project and that is perfectly OK. Emotional goals are simply guides which help give you some focus and direction for your project, but part of being a good storyteller is knowing how to adapt your project to changing situations.
Having an idea of where you want to take your audience will help give you a vision for your project. In the end this vision will help take your project to the next level.